Saturday, May 10, 2014

Boston Bruins on Paper - Home ice is nice, Bruins seek to keep it against Habs

As far as the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are concerned, there may as well have been an old fashioned barn raising at the Bell Centre Thursday night - bright red structures at each end of the ice, the broad side facing the playing surface.

Because neither team could find the range or the angle to find twine, and even when a puck managed to make it past either goaltender, the result was the all-too-familiar metallic ping accompanied by a black blur and a collective groan from the thousands gathered to watch as the closest either team could get to a score in regulation was a glancing blow of the cross bar...
The Bruins mob rookie Matt Fraser after his game winner in OT

...that is, until a kid named Matt Fraser - who was sitting in a mexican restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island on Wednesday afternoon when the Bruins called and told him to pack his stuff and get to Montreal - found a puck spinning on the ice in the crease to the stick side Canadien's goalie Carey Price and poked it into the goal 1:15 into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 victory.

Leave it to the new guy to be the only one capable of hitting the broad side of a barn - and even then, it was like sneaking it through the back door.

"I can’t put it into words," said the unlikely hero, Fraser. "The excitement - again, I’m still shaking with excitement, and again, it’s every kid’s dream to score an overtime goal like that and to contribute."

And, yes.  That's cool, but right here, right now, that goal evened this best-of-seven series at two games apiece and has given the Bruins back their hard-earned home ice advantage - and it's time to put that advantage to good use.

That said, who will step up for the Bruins who, along with Montreal, have scored 11 goals in four game - a number that's a little deceiving in that each team has been shut out once in the series, meaning that they each have scored an average of nearly four goals per game when they do manage to score.

Many feel that it is time for the "KIL" line to step up, and perhaps they will now that Julien has his lines intact.  In the first three games, he had them mixed up with Paille on the third line and Jordan Caron on the checking line - but in Game 4, Paille was back on the Merlot Line and Caron was back in the press box in favor of Fraser.

Bruins' Projected Lineup


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Matt Fraser - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Defensive pairings

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Andrej Meszaros - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller


Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

"It's obviously a lot better to be 2-2 than down 3-1." Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said on Friday. "So, it is what it is, but as a team we know we can be a lot better on the ice, and in order to get more wins, we have to play better and stay focused on doing our jobs."

For his part, Bruins' coach Claude Julien is free and loose, aware that this is essentially the same team that earned the President's Trophy during the regular season - and that all they need to do is to play their brand of hockey and not worry about what the Canadiens are busy doing...

...which consists of coach Michel Therrien calling out his own top line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Bendan Gallagher for not holding the torch and producing as he thinks they should - just as Boston's David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic have struggled offensively.

Reality is, the KIL line is just missing the net, while Montreal's top line is being shut down by the combination of Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton on the Bruins' top defensive pairing.

 Canadiens' Projected Lineup


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallgher 
Michael Bournival -Tomas Plekanec - Tomas Vanek
Rene Bourque - Lars Eller -Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Danny Briere - Dale Weise

Defensive pairings

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Douglas Murray - Mike Weaver


Carey Price
Peter Budaj

“For me, I’m just trying to shut down their top lines and play physical on them and limit them." quipped Hamilton of shutting down the Habs top line. "We’ve just got to keep trying to do that. I think all our D have done a good job of that, just trying to stay aware and limit our mistakes.”

Of course, Therrien doesn't quite see it that way.

"If you look at the playoffs from the start, there are certain players that are having some trouble contributing offensively." said the outspoken Therrien. "These types of players need to adjust to the intensity of the playoffs. They are being checked very tightly, we're aware of it on both sides."

"But there's an intensity to the beginning of the season, an intensity to the middle of the season and there's an intensity to the end of the regular season." Therrien continued. "But when you get to the playoffs, it's another type of intensity. Those types of players need to adapt to that challenge."

Pacioretty chose to do a bit of fence-sitting in his reply to both Therrien's rant and Hamilton's assessment.

“It’s obvious that they want to pair certain guys against us. It’s not an excuse; it’s a good challenge." Pacioretty said, adding "We haven’t risen to that challenge yet. Myself personally, I’ve got to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity.”

Whoever does the best job of overcoming that adversity is going to have a 3-2 lead in this series.

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